Lately, a trip to the ER reminded me how quickly my life can be upended. I weathered the overnight ordeal, but came home as weak as a kitten. Then, not 5 minutes ago, as I sat at my computer writing this, a 5.9-point (on the Richter scale) earthquake hit the Anchorage area.
Every nerve in my body jangled during the tremor. The quake awakened memories of shattered glass, twisted bridges, and wrecked homes — the consequence of our 7.1 seismic jolt in 2018.
I’m feeling much the same way about our nation these days. Our American “bedrock” feels cracked and unstable. The foundation of national unity is trembling.
In fact, I can recite an almanac of “life tremors” I have known:
- the cultural upheavals of the 60s
- possible annihilation by nuclear war
- a seething cold war
- presidential scandals
- the moral breakdown of our justice system
- hysteria over population growth
- race riots
- energy shortages
- job scarcity
- worker shortages
- food panic
- climate fear
- weather catastrophes
- a pandemic
- boiling inflation and …
I hate the vulnerability I feel when these tremors surface (You can probably add to this list).
Do you remember Jesus’ conversation with his disciples just before his crucifixion? He identified the “trigger” for their insecurity and confusion. He called it tribulation. Tribulation is PRESSURE — spiritual “tectonic plates” shifting beneath us that produce anxiety inside us.
The disciples had anchored their hopes deeply in Jewish ideology. With hands on their swords, they prepared to march with their Messiah to overthrow the government. What a profound shock they suffered watching Jesus submit to wearing a crown of thorns! Doubts overwhelmed their dreams of a successful insurrection, and they must have asked:
“How could we have been so wrong? How could we have misread Jesus’ intentions so thoroughly?”
But, over and over, Jesus had given his disciples a full and vivid picture of his destination: the cross. And with sadness, he also predicted how his followers would respond to tribulation: They would desert their longed-awaited Messiah!
Was any force powerful enough to erase the disciples’ legacy of shame? How could they possibly find inner peace after their betrayal?
But shame is no match for God’s love. Jesus’ beloved disciples had deserted him, but he never abandoned them. God’s grace erased their disgrace, and through God’s word we walk in the disciples’ sandals, possessing the only roadmap to peace that exists.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace… Ephesians 2:13-14a
Hear Jesus words:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation [insecurities, pressures, tremors] But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:32-33
Jesus is the only source of transforming peace — as real as his resurrection.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace give to you, “Jesus tells us. “Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
“But how can I lay hold of this peace NOW?”
- Peace comes when we respond to the echoes of relief we remember, from our born-again experience.
- Peace engages the heart when we revive our encounter with utter helplessness.
- We find “peace that passes understanding” the moment we see ourselves as God sees us: powerless without Him.
Courage accompanies the “peace that passes understanding.” Inspiration fills a heart of peace. The mindboggling paradox of peace empowers us — the same intense awareness of God’s presence felt by missionaries, ministers, and martyrs in past centuries.
When we are at our weakest point, and we can barely scrape together a distracted prayer for help — it is here we are strongest — it is here that God answers with power.
He [God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29
…for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (The Apostle Paul) in II Cor. 12:10
God wants to turn my almanac of tremors into a journal of peace. He will do it for you, too.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called… Colossians 3:15
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. I John 5:20